It’s Good Friday and the last day of my Lenten challenge.
It hasn’t been quite what I expected. To be honest, I was expecting to be really adventurous and creative, baking my own bread and trialling every shop in Gloucestershire. But the rest of my life hasn’t slowed down in the last 46 days and I don’t think those kinds of heroic efforts fit into our hectic 21st Century lifestyles.
But it has also not been what I expected because a massive reduction in plastic use has been possible without those things. I’ve used 154g of plastic in 46 days. That’s 7% of the little-over 2kg I would normally have used.
There have been some highs, when I’ve found a really good workaround for something, or a product that is actually better than what I was using before. It’s made me really appreciate some pretty mundane things, too. Finding pasta and rice in cardboard boxes in Sainsbury’s, for example, got me more excited than a carbohydrate has any right to.
There have also been some lows, like when I tried to use biodegradable bin bags for my normal kitchen bin and they biodegraded whilst still in use and the inside of my bin was just a soup that smelled of sick.
Some things have beaten me; I haven’t managed much meat, and there are some products that you simply can’t buy without plastic, like pills, and windscreen wiper fluid. I also know I’ve indirectly consumed plastic – eating at people’s homes knowing the meal wasn’t prepared to be plastic free (my boyfriend did ask, when really wanting to buy us some chocolate puddings, whether it counted if I didn’t see the plastic. Nice try).
But I think the challenge of giving plastic up completely has actually been better than trying a few small things. If I’d just said “I’ll try to reduce where I can,” I would have continuously made excuses every time I wanted something. I’ll go plastic-free next time. Taking it to the extreme forced me to make choices I really wouldn’t have had the willpower to make otherwise.
And a 93% reduction isn’t anything to sniff at.
I want to end where I started, by saying every piece of plastic ever made still exists today. 4.9 billion metric tonnes are choking our planet, and that number is increasing exponentially. It’s poisoning our beautiful world and it is just so unnecessary.
Today, Good Friday, is all about sacrifice. It’s about a God who loved the world He had made so much He was prepared to give up everything – divinity, power and even His life – to rescue it.
We must all allow ourselves to be challenged about what we are ourselves prepared to sacrifice for what is good.
Perhaps it might seem a bit pointless, one person giving up plastic for less than two months. For sure, there’s not much that I, on my own, can do about the plastic problem. I hope I have at least inspired you to make some changes in your life.
But there’s one thing I know for sure: thanks to my sacrifices of the last 46 days, there’s 1,988 fewer grams of plastic out there than there would have been.
TOTAL PLASTIC: 154g
- Energy bar wrapper
- Plastic window in the box of a Cafe Nero wrap
- Piece of plastic HIDDEN INSIDE THE LID of a jar of piquant peppers
- Thin sheet the lady at the deli counter used to pick up my chorizo before putting it in my paper bag (facepalm)
- Windscreen wiper fluid bottle
- Packaging of spa slippers
- Single-portion yoghurt pot
- Plastic window in a pre-packed sandwich box
- Paper cup (plastic coated)
- 3x small plastic windows from boxes of pasta
- Small plastic window from a box of rice
- A black kitchen bin bag
- Packaging for tablets (medicine)